HC3800 vs. Epson Home Cinema 8100 and Home Cinema 8500UB
The Home Cinema 8500UB really isn't direct competition to the HC3800 projector. It is anticipated to sell for about twice the price and really is a higher performance projector, overall. The dramatic difference in black level performance really does make the Epson a better picture. And, the Epson also offers Creative Frame Interpolation, and other goodies, while, by comparison, the HC3800 is a pretty basic projector.
A far more interesting comparison is the Mitsubishi HC3800 against Epson's Home Cinema 8100. I must confess, despite really liking the HC3800, I had expected, that when it came in, I would find the Epson to be the one I liked better. Of course one will be better for some folks and the other may be better for the rest.
Ultimately, though, I found the HC3800's picture quality to be preferred, with better skin tones, and an overall richer color. It is also much brighter when comparing best modes.
There really is no significant difference in black level performance, despite drastically different contrast claims. The Epson claims 36,000:1 and the HC3800 only 4000:1. The Epson relies on a dynamic iris for the extra contrast, and the 8100 extended the range of the iris in this projector. The thing is, however, in most fairly dark scenes, and mixed scenes, the Mitsubishi actually has the slightly blacker blacks. In scenes that are all dark with no significant bright or moderate areas, that's when the Epson can get blacker than the Mitsubishi HC3800 projector. Those scenes, however are fairly rare, so overall I give the edge to the HC3800.
The Epson's key strengths are the extra brightness in "brightest" mode (Dynamic), far superior placement flexibility and a slightly better warranty. For photos comparing brightness see this same section, in the Home Cinema 8100 review.
If you need the lumens, the Epson really does a good job. There's nothing wrong with its color accuracy, or skin tones, the Mitsubishi though just impresses a touch more in picture. Both possess a lot of pop and wow!
Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Mitsubishi HC5500, HC6800
The HC3800 replaced the HC5500, however, they are markedly different projectors. The old HC5500 was a 3LCD projector, while the HC3800 is DLP. The HC5500 cost about the same as the HC3800, at its lowest pricing with rebates. Picture quality - no comparison, as the HC3800 has better blacks and richer skin tones, and really has more pizzazz, overall. The older Mitsubishi was probably quieter, and the two aren't too different in terms of brightness. All considered: No contest, while the HC5500 was a nice projector and a good value, but Mitsubishi has a really hot product in the form of the HC3800.
The more expensive HC6800 I haven't seen as of this writing. It is a 3LCD projector, with more placement flexibility than the HC3800, and as a successor to the HC6500 it should be an impressive one. I liked the HC6500 but it was a bit pricey. The HC6800 is more competitively priced, should be quiet, similarly bright (that's a real guess), and have slightly better black level performance. I should be reviewing in the next couple of weeks. We shall see.
Mitsubishi HC3800 vs. Sanyo PLV-Z700
Last year, we considered the PLV-Z700 and the Mitsubishi HC5500 to be two of the most direct competitors around. They were the two least expensive 1080p projectors, both were 3LCD, but were rather different considering that.
Last year, the Sanyo had the placement flexibility advantage. This year, they still have it over the HC3800, even with the HC3800 having a longer range zoom (1.5:1) than the older HC5500 (1.2:1). Still from a placement flexibility standpoint, the Sanyo has the real advantage, as it also has vertical and horizonal lens shift, allowing it to be shelf mounted.
The Sanyo PLV-Z700 was a bit disappointing in terms of black level performance, despite a dynamic iris. Since I considered the HC5500 to be better (slightly) at blacks, the HC3800 should do a little better still, compared to the PLV-Z700.
I always liked the PLV-Z700 for movie watching, however, the picture just looked particularly good. In that regard, both projectors are very good for the movie enthusiast.
Warranties: Three years on the Sanyo, two on the Mitsubishi.
Tough call, overall, for movie watching, but the HC3800 is brighter in both "best" and "brightest" modes. Rainbows, placement, and warranty issues notwithstanding, I have to favor the Mitsubishi HC3800 projector.